Dan and His Choice for the Next National Holiday for KGUA radio #54

For the June 28, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite on What Would You Make a National Holiday? Why?

Though I applaud my colleague and friend, David Stoloff’s choice of a National Voting Day, my choice is a National Holiday to celebrate Native Americans.  We as a country have done as much damage to Native Americans as we have to African-Americans.

Trail of Tears

I submit that we honor our first Americans by acknowledging the Trail of Tears.  The Trail of Tears was the government sponsored pogrom in the 1830s and 1840s to banish the Cherokee and other tribes from their ancestral homes in the Southeast to parched lands west of the Mississippi River.

Now this is where I come in.

After aimlessly going through the motions as a political science major at the College of Wooster in Ohio, I transferred to Arizona State University in 1969 to major in education with the idea of teaching on the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona.  Within two weeks, I realized that the Native Americans in my Intro class were not really thrilled with having one more well-intentioned white boy come to teach their children. 

So, I changed course that eventually led me to teach a diverse group of kids (Chicano, Anglo, and African-American) in first Anaheim, California and next in Phoenix, Arizona.  Ironically, there in Arizona during the 1970s, I also taught Yaqui Indian kids from the Guadalupe neighborhood in Tempe. 

Who knew there was already such a day in the works? Not me.

I was woefully unprepared to give my students a nuanced approach to American history.  My lack of knowledge of the stories, the trauma, and the genocide of Native Americans was predictable given my own education. 

I believe a National Holiday honoring Native Americans would begin a conversation and greater understanding of our First Americans.

 Words – 258

e.

Dan and A Pre-pandemic Mask – KGUA #52

For the June 14, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, now that we are taking off our masks, we are asked to freewrite on What MASK have you worn or do you still wear? 

Dan’s Mask

If it weren’t for masks, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  I still wear the I like to think I know what the hell I am doing mask.  As a high schooler, my mask got me through being nervous before a tennis match, a big test, or especially when giving a speech.  Fake it till you make it.

Mask-wearing served me well when I first I interviewed to be a university professor.  Let me explain. 

Having burned out after twenty plus years teaching in public schools, I enrolled at the University of New Hampshire to earn the golden ticket (a PhD) to teach at the university level.

After three years of graduate classes, oral and written exams, and writing and defending my dissertation, I needed a job.  Hannah had been doing the heavy lifting of full-time work as an activities coordinator at a local nursing home.

At my interview at Eastern Connecticut State University, among other things, I was asked if I could teach the secondary education methods class in Language Arts and Reading. 

Mask firmly in place and eager for a tenure-track position, I said absolutely.  Though I had never taught high school English, I had successfully taught high school English teachers in a UNH Summer Writing Program.

But behind my mask was a philosophy of teaching that would serve me well no matter what I taught: one, I taught experientially (that is, having students have experiences that replicate what they would do in the classroom), two, focused on building relationships with students, three, developed a classroom community of learners, and four, participated with my students and learned with them.

Fact is, it all worked out pretty well at Eastern, and my mask got me in the door.

Words – 284

Eureka! Dan’s California Memory for the Los Angeles Times is Published (Part 2 of 2)

Holey Moley! As I do each day, I read the highlights from the Los Angeles Times daily online newsletter, Essential California. All of a sudden as I scroll to the bottom, I see my 100 words with my name spelled correctly!

Los Angeles Times
Essential California Newsletter

June 9, 2021

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC Los Angeles: Cloudy, 75. San Diego: Cloudy, 71. San Francisco: Cloudy, 62. San Jose: Clear skies, 67. Fresno: Sunny, 78. Sacramento: Clear skies, 74.


AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory comes from Dan Rothermel:

As a Jersey boy and 1970 graduate in education at Arizona State University, I interviewed for teaching jobs in California. At my interview for the Anaheim City Schools, innocently I asked the administrator if there was smog in Anaheim. Looking me straight in the eye, he said, “No.” Wanting to move to Southern California, I took the job. Once there, I had nothing but low-lying smog day after day for the first six weeks until the first Santa Ana winds blew through. When I saw the same administrator later, he smiled and said, “I never thought you’d really believe me.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.
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Dan’s California Memory – Anaheim 1970 for the Los Angeles Times (Part 1 of 2)

Dan’s California Memory – Anaheim 1970

The Los Angeles Times has a daily online newsletter, Essential California, that deals with the news of the day pertinent to the Golden State.  Thank you, Scott Mercer, for giving me that heads-up. The newsletter concludes with a memory from a reader that is no more than 100 words.  Here’s the California memory I submitted to Los Angeles Times on May 28, 2021.

As a Jersey boy and 1970 graduate in education at Arizona State University, I interviewed for teaching jobs in California.  At my interview for the Anaheim City Schools, innocently I asked the administrator if there was smog in Anaheim.  Looking me straight in the eye, he said, No. 

Wanting to move to southern California, I took the job.  Once there, I had nothing but low-lying smog day after day for the first six weeks until the first Santa Ana winds blew through.  When I saw the same administrator later, he smiled and said, I never thought you’d really believe me.

Words – exactly 100

I will publish Part 2 of 2 when I get word that the LA Times published my 100 word memory.

Dan and Homer, the Greek – KGUA radio #13

The KGUA radio prompt for July 27, 2020 asks writer in 200 words or less to respond to this quote from Homer in The OdysseyEach man delights in the work that suits him best.

KGUA icon

Mark Gross, the KGUA Monday Morning Writer’s Guide, tells us, Let’s go lighter. Happier. Think of a delight. What is your delight? What delights you? What work suits you best, delights you?

A Delightful job

The first job that suited me was teaching fourth graders at Nevitt Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona with Diane and Jean (circa 1974).  We had impossible jobs teaching in an open setting at a brand new school.  Let me remind you about the quote brilliance of the open classroom!

It had no walls.  In this school for 1000 kids, you could literally see from one end of the building to the other.  When our students needed it quiet, other classes were noisy.  When other classes needed it quiet, we disturbed them.  It was insane.

With 33 students per class, we taught all the subjects (reading, spelling, math, sometimes science and social studies) but focused on reading and math since they were the ones the kids took standardized tests for.

Dash Inn

So why the best job, you ask?  Jean and Diane.  As relatively new teachers, we planned together, commiserated and supported each other, and each Friday headed to the Dash Inn on Apache Boulevard for drinks and Mexican food.

Within all this madness, I was not alone.  And for that I thank them dearly.

Words – 182

Where are they know?  Jean died in her early 50s after a 30-year teaching career, six months after she retired!  Diane is hale and healthy living with her hubby in Arizona.